Last weekend I presented at Hyuga’s International Chat night. Our CIR (coordinator for international relations), Cameron, had messaged our Hyuga chat group earlier looking for volunteers. Being my parent’s daughter (my dad is probably more likely to volunteer for public speaking gigs, but they both excel at them), I immediately jumped at the chance. I had only some basic details of who would be attending the event, but it had been too long since I had the chance to give the presentation.
While trying to think of some topics, I jokingly suggested that I present about American comics. Everyone said that was a wonderful idea. I ended up making a presentation that compared American comics to Japanese manga, then introduced some of the basics of American comics.
I ended up running a little late to the rehearsal before the presentations, which started a chain of stress and nerves that ended with me tanking my rehearsal presentation. When had I practiced at home beforehand, my presentation took 7 and a half minutes, in with English and Japanese explanations. When it came time to do the presentation at the rehearsal, my time was somewhere around 4 minutes, 1 minute below the minimum time required.
I was so stressed that I had skipped over major points I wanted to make and I had forgotten Japanese halfway through. I ended up pacing around the room for the rest of the rehearsal time, trying to burn off my nervous energy before it came time to present for real.
Once the guests/audience members started to file in I relaxed. I was too distracted by taking to new people to be worried about what was coming.
There were approximately 10 tables of 9 people each. There were 25 minute breaks between every set of two presentations, so people had plenty of time to socialize. There was also plenty of time to sample the different wines on our tables, which, combined with the efforts of the other people at my table to ensure my cup was never empty, may have played a part in how smoothly my presentation went.
Once I got up in front of the audience, I was back in the zone. I’m an introvert by nature, but I thrive in situations where I can act as a sort of expert on something, even if (or maybe because) it involves being in front of a bunch of people.
Afterwards I passed around my comic collection and let everyone take a look during the break. I got lots of compliments from the attendees, though one of the men at the tables informed me that I was incorrect about a few of the things I said about mangas. I’ll have to do better research next time (or make sure I’m presenting a topic that I know no one else will be able to correct me on). I’m already thinking about presentation ideas for next year. Maybe being Jewish in Japan.
After the chat night was finished, a group of us went to an after party at an izakaya. Most of the food was pork, but I had plenty to eat before, so I wasn’t bothered by it. We finished eating and left the restaurant around 12. By that point it was at least two hours past my bedtime and I was dead on my feet (also due to the umeshu, plum wine, I had had). Though some people continued on to a karaoke bar, I excused myself and walked home.
One of the things I love about Japan is the fact that I can just disappear in the night after drinking and no one has a second thought about it. They all watched me go and said, “Yeah, she’s totally fine. We will definitely see her in the future and nothing negative will happen to her in the intervening time.” That is a huge reason I decided to stay another year. Even if I get homesick sometimes (though it definitely happens less often now as my concept of what is home has shifted), I am not eager to give up the freedom of living in largely safe country like Japan.